LARGO — For Northside Christian sophomore Katelyn Greenleaf, it felt like she was running by herself in the Class A-3 regional at Taylor Park on Friday.
Who could blame her considering she was trailing two of the top five runners in the nation in Community School twins Kathryn and Erika Fluehr, who eventually finished first (17:01) and second (17:17), respectively.
Greenleaf was fourth (19:04) behind Fort Myers Canterbury eighth-grader Emily Edwards but her result helped pace the Mustangs to a third-place showing as a team. As a result, Northside, along with Keswick Christian (fourth) and Shorecrest Prep (sixth), move on to the state finals to represent Pinellas County.
"We knew what the Fluehr sisters could do so I think we did what we needed to do," Greenleaf said. "It's a confidence boost heading into states."
One of Northside's top runners, Ashley Johnson, suffered a bad cramp during the race and finished two minutes slower than usual so Mustangs coach Jeff Goodwin was satisfied with the result. "I'm pleased because of the finish which tells me that we can do even better at states," Goodwin said.
Northside's other individual qualifier for state was Tori Goodwin (ninth, 20:00). Community School took top honors for the girls with 33 points, followed by Lakeland Christian (90), then Northside (119).
Canterbury, which qualified for regionals for the first time in both boys and girls, had a runner in each division advance to state, including eighth-grader Alexandra Eaton and sophomore Grant Shelton. Shelton almost was disqualified because his number fell off during the race but runner Shannon Steel picked it up and handed it off to him.
"It's an exciting time for the school and unprecedented so we're real happy," Canterbury coach Ken Johnson said.
Community School won the boys team title with 76 points, followed by Lakeland Christian (82). Shorecrest led Pinellas County with a third-place finish (97 points) followed by Seffner Christian, Admiral Farragut, and St. John Neumann.
"We knew what we were up against in Community School but we still we're striving for first or second," Shorecrest coach Jeff Raab said. "Our top runner (Rheese Wiltshire) has been sick over the past two weeks so he didn't finish the way he normally can. That being said, it gives us a better feeling heading into states."
Wiltshire was Pinellas County's second-highest finisher (17:30, seventh), just behind Indian Rocks Christian senior Josh Johnson. Caelum Schandle also finished in the top 15 for Shorecrest with a 10th-place showing in 17:44.